This article will be permanently flagged as inappropriate and made unaccessible to everyone. Are you certain this article is inappropriate? Email Address:. The Carmen is generally accepted as the earliest known written account of the invasion and focuses on the famous Battle of Hastings , although it also offers insights into navigation, urban administration and ecclesiastical influence.
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Frank Barlow, ed. New York and Oxford: Clarendon Press, Eucharius-Matthias in Trier a medieval direct copy of 66 lines also survives, but lacks independent textual value. The Carmen describes William the Conqueror's invasion of England from the arrival of his fleet at Saint-Valery-sur-Somme until his coronation at Westminster i.
Although the surviving poem is anonymous and untitled, it has been identified as the " metricum carmen describing the battle of Senlac [on this term for "Hastings" see Barlow, p. Barlow strongly defends the probability of this much debated ascription see pp. He edits the poem with a facing translation and a lengthy introduction. The Latin text itself--necessarily a "relatively straightforward" transcription--is little changed from the original Oxford text presented by the late Catherine Morton and Hope Munz in ; the new translation is slightly less purple and more literal than theirs; the introduction has been almost entirely redone.
For both professional historians and amateurs interested in " and all that," the Carmen might seem somewhat disappointing. Form, meter, and heroic mode eclipse concrete detail. Of the departure, for example we read that:. Some step the masts, others hoist the sails. Many force the knights' horses to clamber on to the ships. The rest hasten to stow their arms. Like a flock of doves seeking their lofts, the throngs of infantry rush to take their places on the boats.
O what a great noise suddenly erupts from that place as the sailors seek their oars, the knights their arms! Then a thousand trumpets sound, and resound, their various calls. There are pipes with their reeds and zithers with their strings; drums bellow like bulls; and the loud cymbals chime in.
The earth shakes; the heavens quake; the ocean is amazed. Much is glossed over in the midst of such epic grandeur: Bishop Guy does not even mention the move from Pevensey to Hastings or the exact site of the battle. Some omissions and vagueness may be explained by his situation as a Frenchmen who did not participate in the events he described, although he was informed through his acquaintance with some of the participants, through a possible London connection, and through a later visit to England where he appears briefly in the entourage of Queen Matilda.
Limited knowledge may at times have forced him to be "creative. Yet Bishop Guy's perspective is interesting. He was educated at Chartes, well enough to handle classical meter competently. A scion of the counts of Ponthiou, he was neither Norman nor English. He recognizes, better than most later authors, that what we see retrospectively as the "Norman Conquest" was achieved by an invasion force of Normans, Angevins, Bretons, and men from the Low Countries--in fact, Guy appears to sympathize most with the French, whose military efforts at Hastings he features more prominently than those of the Normans themselves.
His William is less polished than the more politically correct William of later historiography: as the epic style dictates, William is a "fighting general," a heroic warrior who personally kills Harold's brother Gyrth and helps kill Harold himself. He achieves victory by systematically ravaging the countryside. At Hastings he apparently takes no prisoners and leaves unburied the English dead. In relation to the other accounts of the Conquest, however, the ultimate importance of this poem may lie less in its distinctives than in its points of tangency.
Yet, since it appears to have been written earlier than any other account, perhaps prior to , it may well have helped to shape later versions. This is true in regard to William of Poiters d.
As has been noted, Orderic Vitalis cites this poem explicitly. Thus it may have played a role in Conquest historiography analogous to that played in crusade historiography by the Gesta Francorum , an account which, simply by virtue of being first, affected the shape of the histories that followed, even those with independent authority and sometimes better knowledge of particular events.
Because of the Carmen 's place in the historiographical tradition, it merits careful consideration. Yet many readers of this Oxford Medieval Text may be less interested in the Carmen itself than in Barlow's introduction. It would be hard to find a more informed scholar than Barlow, author of around a dozen books and major editions concerning the era of the Conquest.
His introduction, nearly twice as long as the poem itself, carefully contextualizes the poem by comparing it to all the major alternative sources. The three-page list of abbreviated references could itself serve as a point of departure for any student interested in beginning research on some aspect of the Battle of Hastings--here are listed the major primary sources, in the best editions, and the major scholarly treatments of the associated problems.
As a state-of-the-art look at the historiography of Hastings, this little book is hard to surpass. Copyright c by H-Net, all rights reserved. This work may be copied for non-profit educational use if proper credit is given to the author and the list. For other permission, please contact hbooks mail. Citation: John Howe. Review of Barlow, Frank, ed. H-Catholic, H-Net Reviews. September, For any other proposed use, contact the Reviews editorial staff at hbooks mail.
Of the departure, for example we read that Add a Comment. Michigan State University Department of History.
The Carmen de Hastingae Proelio of Guy, Bishop of Amiens
Spear David S. Oxford Medieval Text's new edition of Guy Bishop of Amiens's Carmen de Hastingae Proelio1, under review here, falls into the second category, for an earlier edition of this work appeared in Various criticisms were raised of the edition, especially by the knowledgeable and tenacious R. Davis, about the editing of the Latin text, about the translation, and about the overly-confident introduction3. Indeed, Davis was convinced that the Carmen was merely a derivative source not even written by Guy of Amiens. These issues are all addressed by the work's current editor, equally knowledgeable and tenacious, Frank Barlow. The Latin text stands with only two or three changes, the translation into English is completely redone, new notes accompany the text and translation, and the introduction is given a more accomodating and judicious tone.
Howe on Barlow, 'The "Carmen de Hastingae Proelio" of Guy Bishop of Amiens'
The ninth centenary of the Norman conquest of England, celebrated in , triggered an explosion of historical commentaries on the invasion and the battle of Hastings. Most were popular in tone. But a few difficult technical problems received a scholarly airing; and one of these was the authorship and value of an anonymous poem on the Norman Campaign, Carmen de Hastingae proelio. The appearance in of the first adequate edition of the poem, the work of Catherine Morton and Hope Muntz, only fuelled the debate. They accepted its attribution to Guy of Amiens and regarded its account of the events most favourably. But these views were anathema to some established scholars working in the field; and since neither editor was a trained historian with an academic post, their work had a generally cool, occasionally hostile, reception.
It is attributed to Bishop Guy of Amiens , a noble of Ponthieu and monastically-trained bishop and administrator close to the French court, who eventually served as a chaplain for Matilda of Flanders , William the Conqueror 's queen. The Carmen is generally accepted as the earliest surviving written account of the Norman Conquest [ citation needed ]. It focuses on the Battle of Hastings and its immediate aftermath, although it also offers insights into navigation, urban administration, the siege of London, and ecclesiastical culture. The Carmen was most likely composed within months of the coronation of William as king of England Christmas Day, —probably sometime in [ citation needed ] , possibly as early as Easter of that year, to be performed at the royal festivities in Normandy , where King William I presided. The motivation for the poem's production and performance is open to debate. Queen Matilda may have commissioned the Carmen as an entertainment and to memorialize her husband's conquest, as queens customarily commissioned works of history composed by clerics and Guy d'Amiens was known in the court of her father, Count Baldwin V of Flanders, where the bishop had witnessed a charter in with Earl later King Harold, Count Guy of Ponthieu , and Count Eustace of Boulogne. All the allies would have attended the Easter celebrations for the sharing-out of war booty.